Tamil Nadu: Pilgrim tourism potential yet to be exploited

Nearly 60-70 per cent of the domestic travel in India is for pilgrimage.

Chennai: It’s faith and spiritual attachment to the religious deity or destination that drives the domestic tourism in the country and Tamil Nadu is no exception. But nearly 60-70 per cent of the domestic travel in India is for pilgrimage, yet the religious tourism segment has not been exploited fully in an organised manner, claim tourism industry sources.

TN’s diverse tourism potential like temples, historical places, pilgrim centres, beach resorts, hill stations, wildlife sanctuaries, monuments and archaeological sites, art and architecture, among others makes it all the more attractive and year-long destination.

“Most of the spiritual destinations developed long ago, and realising their importance, the government has been bestowing importance to improving infrastructure and improving connectivity,” a senior tourism official said.

The other distinct aspect to religious tourism is the foreign tourists for whom the destinations and the religious practices have the dimension of uniqueness. And the diverse beliefs or faiths have gains ground as tourist attraction, he pointed out and added that since the days of yore — Chera, Cholas, Pandiyas, Tamil Nadu has been attracting visitors as it was dominated by Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Vaishanivism.

“Among the religious destinations, Rameswaram, Tiruchendur, Palani, Tiruvannamalai, Nagore, Kancheepuram, Chennai and Madurai top the destinations. Periodically, we take up joint works with Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments to improve amenities and we also operate tours to select destinations,” a senior TTDC official said when contacted.

During the previous fiscal, the tourism department has spent '5.15 crore on improving the hill road to Sri Subramaniya Swamy temple, Chennimalai besides the panchayat roads in Srivaikundam in Tuticorin district and also the roads in Viralimalai in Pudukottai district.

Ramayana circuit - a fillip to religious tourism:
Spiritual or religious tourism can be safely defined as an urge to travel with the desire to experience the religious faith and also explore the art, culture, tradition and architecture of the region.

The Centre’s initiative to launch the Ramayana circuit (under Swadesh Darshan Scheme) by including Rameswaram in the state is expected to give a fillip to religious tourism. In addition, the inclusion of Kancheepuram and Vellankanni under the National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation drive (PRASAD) is also expected to drive the domestic and foreign tourists to TN.

The growth of the domestic tourism largely depends on pilgrimage tourism, according to Union tourism ministry sources. And hence the decision to develop the circuits.

Madurai among 10 clean tourist spots
The Union government has included the renowned Sri Meenakshi Sunderashwar temple, Madurai among the 10 tourist destinations across the country under its ambitious Swachh Bharat programme. The 10 tourists spot include Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir, Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh, Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Golden Temple in Punjab, Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan, Lord Jagannath temple in Odisha and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Others are Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Sri Meenakshi Temple in Tamil Nadu and Kamakhya Temple in Assam. Similarly the government has identified 10 reserves — Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, Gir Wild Life Sanctuary in Gujarat, Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, Tadoba Reserve in Maharashtra, Flamingo Sanctuary in Maharashtra, Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu and Jim Corbett Reserve in Uttrakhand — for launching the Swachh Bharat Mission.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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